98 Years Ago Suffragettes Triumph #WomensEqualityDay

Niney-eight years ago women finally won the right to vote, a triumph of the suffragette movement that went on for sixty years!

womens equality day graphic

2018 Women’s Equality Day graphic from the National Women’s History Project

It still boggles my mind that it took sixty years of courageous activism from several generations of women before they were finally granted the right to vote. The arc of justice certainly does move slowly.

suffragette with sign

Yeah, they were justifiably angry. (Suffragette With A Sign
@ Therealdarla)

It all started with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, called by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. (Date corrected 8/27/18.)

The movement struggled for decades, but the tide turned during and after World War I. The Nineteenth Amendment was passed by Congress on May 21, 1919, before being sent to the states. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee voted and the amendment was ratified. Women voted for the first time that November.

In 1971, feminist and Congresswoman Bella Abzug introduced a resolution designating August 26th as Women’s Equality Day, and the resolution passed.

I feel it’s important that women remember the long struggle to win the right to vote. There are still forces in society that would like to stifle our voices. Voting is one way we can make our wishes known to our elected representatives. We learned in the last election, that matters can be decided by a relatively few votes, bringing home the lesson that every vote really does count.

Are you registered for November? I am and I intend to vote.

Linda

PS Since it’s also National Dog Day, here’s a picture of my puppy, Callie. I celebrated by making a donation to the Humane Society on Facebook.

Callie sitting

Callie, my rescue pup

Why Women Should Read Historical Romance

woman reading bookThree blog posts I’ve read this summer have given me some insight into why women should read historical romance and/or fiction, and not just because I happen to love the genre.

One was a review of a Western novel in which the reviewer, who obviously doesn’t read a lot of historical romance, was shocked by restrictions placed on women of the time period. I guess she was expecting contemporary characters in period dress, but the author took her work more seriously than that.

The second was The Hard Won Ground, Rose Anderson’s Fourth of July blog post where she reminisced about her family’s long connection to American history and how the women were right there with the men, settling the frontier and opening the West. As she correctly points out, men rode or drove wagons west. Women walked. (So much for the “weaker” sex.)

covered wagonFinally, when I read Sara Robinson’s article entitled “Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control and Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About It 100 Years From Now”, the three threads coalesced in my mind.

Robinson points out the revolutionary nature of modern, reliable, and effective methods of birth control. She ranks contraception as one of the three most important innovations of the 20th century. The others are the integrated circuit, which led to the computer revolution, and the space racing culminating in the moon landing, mankind’s first steps outside the bounds of earth. I’d never thought about it before, but she’s right. The pill changed everything for women. Without it there would have been no sexual revolution and possibly no feminist gains. Birth control gives women the freedom men have always had, and levels the playing field. After thousands of years, men are losing control of women and some are freaking out about it. This is one reason why the Taliban, for instance, cannot bear the thought of educated girls. The very idea upsets their male-centered world view. (I encourage everyone to read the original article. It’s brilliant.)

In Technopoly, Neil Postman wrote that “technological change isn’t addictive or subtractive, it’s ecological.” We need no further proof of that than the onslaught of change we’ve seen since the computer revolution began.

But no change has been more profound, or at least has the potential to be, than the advent of reliable birth control. For centuries, no for millennia, women have been slaves to their biology. And men took advantage of the fact to keep women under control, reserving privileges like voting and inheritance for themselves. Women still earn less than men, even for the same work, even though we are now as well-educated as they are. Even female CEO’s make less than their male counterparts, and that’s the top of the food chain!

We should not forget what life used to be like for our female ancestors, lest the hard-won gains we’ve made be taken from us. As George Santayana famously said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

I get that not everyone likes historical novels, perhaps because a realistically depicted woman of the past cannot be the kind of modern kick-ass character so popular now. (Don’t get me wrong, I love that kind of heroine, like Katniss Everdean of The Hunger Games.) I also suspect one reason why steampunk romance is popular is because you can have a kick-ass heroine in a corset with a deadly ray gun in her reticule. The best of both worlds. But steampunk is science fiction, not based on real life.

Reading a historical novel now and again is an easy way to remember the past. Outside of women’s studies programs, most history books and classes don’t really deal with women’s issues. It’s not spelled “his” story for nothing!

Historical novels are a pain-free way of reminding us how important the changes of the last fifty years really are. We learn where we’ve been and why we don’t want to go back!

Am I on the right track here? Let me know what you think.

Linda

PS. Everyone who comments in August will be entered in my monthly drawing for a $15 Starbucks gift card.